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Top 5 Auction Items That Sell Well & Help Raise More Money

Author: Adie M.

If you’re running a non-profit and are looking for a way to raise funds, an auction is a great way to do this - and can be run easily and stress-free.

Planning your event strategically with auction items that sell well will set you up for a great response from your audience. It will also give your auction item donors the opportunity to be recognized for supporting a worthy cause.

The type of auction items that you want to include in your fundraiser should always start with the facility or community that you are hosting the auction for. If it’s an auction for a school fundraiser, for example, education-related items do very well. If it’s to support a sports team, then signed sports memorabilia are a sure-fire way to get those bids on those items.

Your audience is also very important to consider. For example, if you’re auctioning to a more affluent audience, then the items you source should appeal to this type of individual. Luxury items such as jewelry or signed artwork are very attractive to this audience. Or unique, hard-to-come-by items such as box tickets to a popular, sell-out concert. You'll want to avoid auction items that only appeal to certain tastes or that have many constraints and limitations. 

5 Awesome Auction Items That Really Sell

Below is a list of a few great ideas for auction items that sell well. You can use these to kick-start your item procurement. Be creative with it and see how you can make the ideas even more unique and appealing.

1. Signed Sports or Music Memorabilia

Items signed by a favorite sports player or team, or lead singer of a popular band, are always high-ticket sellers on an auction list. 

If you’re including a few of these on your auction list, it’s important to ensure that the items are authentic and have the necessary proof of such. 

Consignment companies will often provide a certificate of authenticity, along with a full description of the item, which you can provide to the top bidder. 

Sports Memorabilia Ideas

  • Passes to a football or baseball game or transport, entry, and catering at a golf tournament.
  • Signed items such as jerseys, helmets, balls, practice gear, or bats.
  • Join the sportscaster in the tower for an important match.
  • Rare baseball cards.

Music Memorabilia Ideas

  • Instruments signed by the band.
  • Tickets to a concert or to Broadway, meeting the performers/cast after the event.
  • Backstage or VIP passes to shows. 

2. Gift Baskets

Gift baskets are always a winner at auctions, but they must be put together thoughtfully and presented beautifully. Bundling complementary items together will enhance the winning bidder’s experience with the gift basket.

Giving your gift baskets a theme helps to make bundling easier. Here are some ideas:

Mixology Basket

Let your winning bidder be a cocktail mixologist for the night with this basket. Include a shaker, muddler, and strainer, along with ingredients for a handful of different cocktails. A cocktail recipe book is also a great addition to this basket.

Baker’s Delight Basket

Who doesn’t enjoy a basket of mixed baked goodies to tempt the palate? Think seasonal or occasional if you’re putting one of these baskets together. 

If your auction takes place around Valentine’s Day, have a red, white, and pink color theme with plush cupcakes, iced cake pops, and heart-shaped cookies. Add a bottle of sparkling wine and you’ve got a best-seller.

Election season sweeping the nation? Create a President’s Choice Cheesecake Sampler Basket, with varied slices of the best-voted cheesecakes in town. Add in a couple of cake forks and a recipe book with the cheesecake recipes.

Valentines themed gift basket

3. Unforgettable Travel Experiences

Few things are more memorable than a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience. These are also high-ticket items to include on your auction list - but do need to be promoted properly before the auction takes place.

Here are some ideas to work with:

  • Meet the gorillas in the misty mountains of Rwanda, Africa.
  • See the Northern Lights on a 21-day cruise through Iceland, Greenland, and East Canada.
  • Experience the wonders of Machu Picchu in Peru.
  • Visit the grand Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
  • View the historic patchwork of Cappadocia, Turkey, from a hot air balloon.
  • Climb to the famed Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan.
  • Set up camp at the Grand Canyon.
  • Admire the ancient pyramids of Egypt.

You can also keep it more local and auction off passes or day trips to sites in and around your local area or state. 

4. Unique Dining Experiences

Food and wine experiences are always popular at auctions, whether it's an exclusive dinner for two at a Michelin five-star restaurant or a traveling group dinner to your city’s top three most sought-after restaurants.

Other dining experience ideas include:

  • Chef’s table at the top restaurant.
  • Tasting experience including wine pairings at a unique new restaurant.
  • Chocolate/nougat and brandy/whisky pairing at a local distillery.

5. Health and Wellness 

Health and wellness are gaining momentum globally. So, well-curated auction items in this genre will be snapped up quickly. 

These can include:

  • Personal trainer at home for three months.
  • Healthy eating hampers along with a smoothie recipe book and subscription to a fitness app.
  • Wellness day for two people at a local spa.
  • Gym membership for a year.
  • Fun fitness classes for six months, for example, Zumba, dance, yoga, aerial fitness, rebounding, etc.

spa hamper as an auction item


Auctions are a great way to raise money for a cause supported by a non-profit organization, and there are so many options that you can include on your list. The secret is to think out of the box because the more unique your items/experiences are, the more they will be sought after - and this will drive your bidding prices up.

Put together an auction committee of volunteers who can help you to reach out to potential donors. The more hands on deck, the more chance you have of populating your list with auction items that sell well. 

And if you build a good relationship with your donors, you could have them coming back for future auctions, with bigger and better items to support your nonprofit's cause.

Whether you’re doing a silent, live, or virtual auction, the above item categories are general favorites that turn up the heat in a friendly bidding battle!